"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Monday, May 16, 2005
The judges in Russia's most prominent criminal trial began reading their verdict today against Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, once the country's richest man, indicating that he and his partner had committed crimes, but then postponed the final verdict for at least another day.
The climax of Mr. Khodorkovsky's trial unfolded in a crowded Moscow courtroom much as the government's legal assault has progressed from the start: clouded in confusion, prone to surprise and drowned out by the clamor of those accusing President Vladimir V. Putin of settling a personal or political score.
As protesters gathered outside the court, jostling with police officers, the court's three judges read aloud page after page of findings that essentially repeated the indictments against Mr. Khodorkovsky and his partner, Platon Lebedev, according to lawyers who were inside.
The remarks appeared to leave little doubt that the defendants would be found guilty, but then the chief judge, Irina Y. Kolesnikova, abruptly adjourned after 2 hours and 40 minutes. Even the defendants' lawyers appeared surprised and confused, though they were still persuaded that there was little chance of acquittal.